My continuation of Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project (June-Aug 2022), which offered a framework for recognising how we’re building resiliency, community, and accountability that will make our lives better now and in the future. Many of Sharon’s categories are (or could be) related to gardening, so it seems to fit here on this blog. Equally, none of them has to do with gardening. They’re all multifaceted.

This episode will focus mostly on this week with a few items from last week when I didn’t post due to Christmas.

  • Plant something: plant, start something

No plants planted, though it feels warm enough to. I know I said that winter was here when I last posted an Independence Days update two weeks ago, but since then it’s been a lot of rain and highs in the 40s and 50s F. We had a white Christmas and there is still 6 inches of snow on the ground, what remains of the two feet we had, but it feels decidedly springlike here. We’re having to bring the birdfeeders in at night in case bears feel like taking a break from their denning.

muddy road today at lake

I placed my first seed order of the season from Fedco on Friday.

I’m keeping 2 or 3 packets of the 10 packets of the Bee & Butterfly Pollinators Collection and the rest are spoken for by my permaculture friends.

Of course, it’s the first day of the new year as I write, so I am (we are all) starting something new, if you believe in time’s arbitrary measurements. New Year’s Day is actually my favourite holiday. I don’t make resolutions and never have (or haven’t as long as I can remember). I just like the clean feeling of it, the blank slate, even though it’s not really any truer today than yesterday or a minute ago. New Year’s Day feels like a low-key holiday (vs. New Year’s Eve), when you can sit around and watch football, or take a walk, or clean out your closet, and it’s all fine.

  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

Nothing harvested. Husband got some decent plastic hangers from the swap shack at the transfer station on Tuesday.

  • Preserve something: food or local community resource

Preserved local resources: on Thursday, we had dinner out — with a big coupon — in an actual local restaurant at 3 p.m., when it was pretty empty (we tried on Wed. but it was too busy at 2 and again at 5).

eating out (note booth partitions) – 29 Dec

Husband shopped at a local pharmacy on Wednesday; I bought locally made (VT) socks at a local chain on Monday. The farmstand and bakery are closed this week to give employees a rest.

Preserved mental health: Took a long walk in town on Monday, and a shorter (1 hour) town walk on Thursday; walked around the lake on Friday and today. The woods terrain is a little iffy with the snow, ice, rain, melt right now.

  • Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage, repair, give away to an actual person

Gave some of the very large lemons a friend in Florida sent us from her trees to other friends (kept 6 of the 15 or so). Used up previously bought lemons making pomegranate champagne cocktails for New Year’s. Last week, a neighbour gave us some grapefruit that they got as a gift but can’t eat. Citrus extravaganza here.

Husband repaired the snap on my Kuhl pants this week, and last week he repaired a shirt collar.

Served some of a delicious eggnog tea cake a friend gave us this week to other friends here today for drinks. I’ve certainly used the extra cookie sheet I got from a friend who’s downsizing a lot over the last few weeks.

  • Want Not: food and emergency supplies, increase economic security, reorganize to use/waste less

Nothing here this week, though I reviewed some articles naming items to have on hand for Covid, flu, colds (like this and this)

  • Eating The Food: shop the pantry, new recipes, creative use of leftovers, help feed others

Made a new recipe for a small New Year’s Day drinks party today, a puff pastry-brie-cherry jam-pecan appetizer. Fed a couple friends yesterday at an impromptu New Year’s Eve tea party. Still eating cookies, tea cakes, etc., that other friends and neighbours gave us over Christmas. Made the bourbon-dill shrimp dish for New Year’s Eve (tradition). Made Italian fish stew today (for tomorrow and Tuesday) for the first time since last winter. We got take-out Indian food for Xmas, which lasted us four dinners. A neighbour gave us some homemade Bailey’s on Monday, which husband is enjoying. I’m reviewing frittata recipes for something easily swallowed to bring Tuesday lunchtime to a friend in hospice. We put up two new birdfeeders this week to feed the birds (and squirrels, deer, etc.)

  • Caregiving/Mutual Aid: contribute to community support systems, volunteer, mutual aid, advocate

My sister’s close friend’s mother — whom my sister has known for 40 years — died very unexpectedly on Friday (in Virginia) and I’m a small part of the network of support for her — and for my sister as she supports her friend. I’m part of the support network for a good friend here (who is part of both the permaculture and salon groups) who is dying and in hospice, watching birds at her feeders from her living room. I’m morally supporting friends with serious heart issues, cancer, and other medical concerns.

  • Skill up: particularly if they help us get along, grow, make our new reality better

Husband is continuing to work on a garden database for me, which is requiring him to learn new programming.

Last week, I attended an excellent Zoom webinar on winter birding on Cape Ann, which could help me identify birds this winter here. I’ve got lots of webinars coming up this month.

For Christmas, I got a few books that should help me hone my tree, shrub, and bird ID skills and plant knowledge.

Xmas books – 25 Dec
  • Tend & Maintain: cleaning stuff, replacing supplies, car or bike maintenance, stuff to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

Husband rinsed road salt off the vehicles yesterday. I’m always replacing supplies.

  • Winter is coming: making our relationships, family life, home, community, immediate surroundings, jobs better for a long and hard upcoming year or few years

It’s been a couple weeks of enjoyable small (and one medium) get-togethers among people we see all the time, including the spontaneous tea party yesterday with two nearby friends and the little drinks evening with two other friends tonight, plus a friend over on the 24th for a few hours. Talked with my sister on the phone on Monday and Friday (and last Monday and Wed.), and we had a postponed family Xmas Zoom this Wednesday for almost an hour. All those things make my life better.

For Christmas, I got a Solo Stove that we can use on the patio to host outdoor parties year-round (or close to year-round); I’m looking forward to that!

My permaculture group met on Zoom on Thursday, almost all of us, and the week before, on the 22nd, most of us met in person for a cookie exchange, white elephant swap, and potluck for three hours. Last week, my college friend group met on Zoom on the 21st. The salon group met on Zoom on the 23rd.

Here’s to 2023!

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